The Summer Foundation’s Annual Public Forum was held on November 25, 2022. For the first time since 2019, we were pleased to host an audience in person, as well as online. The hybrid event saw almost 600 people join us online and close to 150 in person at The Arena, NAB Docklands.
Watch highlights from the forum:
Our panel of experts, made up of policy makers, sector experts and people with lived experience of disability were hosted by Beverley O’Connor (ABC News 24), and discussed what a reimagined NDIS might look like.
Bram Heinrich-McPartlan and Tobias O’Hehir brought the voice of lived experience to the discussion, with valuable insights into their own experiences navigating the NDIS. Importantly, they both highlighted the life-changing supports that their NDIS funding provided, while also sharing how complex the NDIS is, and how difficult it was to access and understand.
Tobia’s noted that his work as a lawyer helped him to recognise what was needed to put together an application that ensured he would get the funding package he needed, bringing into sharp focus that most do not come to the NDIS with this level of expertise. “Immediately I knew this was an evidence-based process, straight away… I came to it with a law degree and comms degree, and all of my professional experience, and I was able to get the information that I required, I was able to get the evidence that I required.”
John Dardo, Deputy CEO Partners, Providers and Fraud Taskforce Group, represented the NDIA and he was joined by Alecia Rathbone from the Housing Hub and Paul Simmons from Ability SDA, who added to the discussion from the perspective of sector and housing professionals.
It was widely acknowledged throughout the discussion that the NDIS is a young organisation with an enormous task, and while it is not where it needs to be, the organisation is committed to getting better.
John Dardo explained that the NDIA is working on both system improvements and immediate interface improvements to make the NDIS better now, and into the future. “But we also have to look forward and go, what do we need to keep focussing on at every level, to improve and be better next year, and in 5 years, then in 10 years.”
Watch the full recording:
There were some fantastic suggestions for improvement from all our speakers. A key theme that emerged was improvements to workforce. For example, there needs to be more level 3 support coordinator funding, as well as funding for training for support coordinators so they can become the experts that they need to be. The implementation of NDIS in-reach roles within the hospital system was also needed so there are experts within the hospital system that can work with participants and support coordinators to get the best possible outcomes.
Suggestions for change within the NDIA included NDIS policy being separated from implementation, and a positive demand activation scheme, where the NDIA identifies participants who will likely be eligible for SDA. Paul Simmons explains, “the NDIA knows who is likely eligible for SDA, it wouldn’t be perfect, but they would cover it a lot better than the market would”.
The event concluded with a great sense of optimism for the future of the NDIS. For the full discussion – the range of barriers and possible improvements, watch a recording of the event above or download the transcript.